Q. Hey, I used to get Fox Sports Southwest on YouTube TV here in Lubbock, but now it’s gone. We used to watch the (Texas) Rangers games. Is the channel coming back? — Tom, Lubbock, Texas.
Tom, as you may know, YouTube TV last week signed a new carriage agreement with Sinclair, the owner of the 21 Fox regional sports channels, that permits it to carry 19 of them. (As part of the new pact, YouTube TV will no longer carry Fox Sports West or Prime Ticket, as well as the Yes Network.)
The new agreement was extensively covered in the media, but what slipped by many publications is that YouTube TV and Sinclair also tightened the markets that can receive the regional channels. For instance, Fox Sports Southwest is still available to YouTube TV subscribers in the greater Dallas area, but not in some of the outlying areas such as Lubbock.
Previous to the new pact, the channels were available in the outer markets (such as Lubbock) on YouTube TV. And they are still available in the outlying markets on other services such as DIRECTV and AT&T TV.
So why were the territories redrawn under the new deal?
Money. By offering the Fox regional sports channels to fewer subscribers, YouTube TV does not have to pay Sinclair as much money in carriage fees. (Provider fees are based on how many subscribers can get the programmer’s channels.)
This is why YouTube TV also stopped carrying New York’s Yes Network (partially owned by Sinclair, but managed by it) and Los Angeles’ Fox Sports West and Prime Ticket. By eliminating the channels in those two major markets, YouTube TV is saving a bundle in carriage fees.
I’m sure Sinclair is not happy about the new arrangement. But the company needs to get whatever carriage it can these days. Dish, Sling TV and FuboTV still don’t carry the Fox regional sports channels, and it’s possible that Comcast won’t as well in the coming months.
As for YouTube TV, this is what it’s telling unhappy subscribers on social media sites:
“As part of the new deal we’ve made with Sinclair, we won’t be able to offer FOX RSNs to certain areas anymore. We don’t take this decision lightly & we’ll continue to do our best to make YouTube TV a best-in-class experience,” @TeamYouTube wrote on Twitter today.
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— Phillip Swann